'Ten Minutes Late for Reality' by Lou Morris (c) 1988, 1989, 1991, 2002, 2015.                          Day One.

                         Day One.


   "Quotations at the beginning of a chapter are so cliche."

                                 - Lou Morris--the author.

   Lou Morris was driving dejectedly down route 571 towards to local 11-7 for no particular reason.  The road was quiet, the sun was shining bright this late August morning, and only a few cars passed him on his way down the two lane rural road.  He was driving his first car, a beat-up, banged-up, crapped-up 1971 Buick Riviera that was a hand-me-down from his late aunt.  He noticed this and slammed on his brakes in alarm.
   "What the expletive deleted!" Lou blurted.
   He blinked, his car idling roughly and belching smog in the middle of the road.
   He wiped his face in a "oh my Lord" sort of way and sighed a deep sigh.
   "I'm re-writing that book again, aren't I?" he asked himself, looking upwards.
   That's not your line.  
   Lou shook his head in a "why me?" sort of way.  He was good at that.  He looked at the steering wheel in front of him.  "This car was the biggest piece of expletive deleted I ever had.  Well, except for that Geo Metro Convertible.  Now that was a real piece of expletive deleted."  He frowned.
   "Stop censoring me." he said.  "I hate that expletive deleted."
   Just tell the readers how you got fired, okay?
   "Do you realize,” Lou asked, “that I am thirty two years old and I honestly do not remember, nor care when, how, or why I got fired from a job I had when I was seventeen.”
   You are not thirty two.
   “Um, yeah.  Thirty two.  Born in 1970.  It’s now 2003.  Do the math.”
   The year is 1989.
   “Maybe in your world, but I’m 32.  I re-wrote the book and now I’m in it.  When I first wrote it, the main character was myself, but I guess screwing around with rewrites changed all that.”
   That makes no sense.
   “We wrote it!” Lou exclaimed, “Of course it doesn’t make any sense!”
   So you, the main character, is myself in the present time and I, the writer, is yourself when you first wrote this novel.  Does that make any sense?
   Okay then.
   “Well what?” Lou asked, still sitting behind the wheel of his 1971 Buick Riviera, parked in the middle of a lonely rural Cassville road.
   Tell the readers how you lost your job?
   We still have this book to finish.  It’s not going to get done if we sit here and argue about it.
   “You aren’t sitting.  I can’t even see you.  I don’t even hear you.  I must be going insane,” said Lou.  He sighed.
   Do cars fly in the future?
   “What?!” Lou exclaimed.  “No they don’t fly.  What kind of stupid question is that?”
   Well, you are from 2003.  The future.  Do you have robots and stuff?
   “Well, yeah.  I’ve got a robot dog.  Kicks his stupid pink ball until I shut him off.   Programmed him to play Chutes and Ladders and Dungeons and Dragons.  Pretty neat, I suppose, but not really.”  Lou looked upwards, towards the fabric of the car roof.  “But nothing like Rosie or Marvin.  I wish...”
   “Anything else?” asked Lou, with a sigh.
   So, tell the readers how you lost your job?  
   He sighed again.  "You aren't going to let me leave this book until I do it, are you?"
   "Okay.  Fine.  Whatever."
   Go ahead.
   Lou fished a copy of the novel from the back seat of the Riviera among the trash and detritus of teenaged life.  He flipped through the hand-made spiral-bound book a page or two and read a few lines to himself.  "This is utter crap," he said.
   Excuse me?
   "Wow, this is worse than I remembered."  Lou flipped a few more pages.  "It gets better later, but the first chapter is pretty bad.
   Where did you get that?
   "I wrote it, remember?"  Lou shook his head.  "I didn't think I was this dumb when I was 21."
   You aren’t 21.
   “Yes, moron,” said Lou.  “I’m not 21.  I’m 32.  But you are 21.  See?”
   Just tell us how you got fired.
   "Nah, I honestly don't remember anymore.  Been a long time.  I'll just read what I said in the book."  Lou flipped the book to chapter one.
   "Anywho..."  He took a deep breath then began reading aloud, "It all
started last year when I had just about run out of money;
most of which went into my gas-hog of a car.  So I decided to
go out and get a job.  Not a real one, mind you, but an easy
part-time summer job.
   "I drove down the street from my Cassville, Pennsylvania
home--I didn't grow up in Pennsylvania!"  
   Lou looked upwards, "We grew up in New Jersey!"  
   "Duh," he added.
   I changed it to protect the innocent.
   "Uh, huh," said Lou.  "Right.  Anywho.."
   "I drove down the street from my Cassville, Pennsylvania
home--a totally fictional place, of course--to the local
amusement park, Generic Corporation's Death Adventure--also a
fictional place, not to be confused with any other amusement
park in this fictional town of Cassville.  My car was, and
still is, a 1971 Buick Riviera--two tons of gold steel from
its chromed front bumper to its pronounced boat tail rear.  
It has a huge motor and an even bigger gas tank that always
seems to be empty.  It also has a brown driver's door.  And
more than a few dents.
   "So I drove down to Death Adventure--D.A. for short--not
even bothering to look at my gas gauge, even though it was
very rapidly moving towards empty.  I pulled into D.A.
through the employees' entrance and came to a screeching halt
next to the security gate.  It wasn't a screeching halt
because of my tremendous speed, but because my car needed new
brakes; I guess it still does.  The security person--male or
female, I couldn't tell--after being rudely awakened by my
brakes and the lack of them, directed me to the personnel
department.  After I had parked the boat, I leisurely
strolled into the main building...
   "During the drive to D.A., I had been thinking that maybe
I wasn't the Death Adventure type and that they wouldn't hire
me.  I couldn't have been more wrong.  After the set of
questions that were asked of all employees to be, I had the
job.  The line of questioning went something like this:

             Some Lady- "Hi, welcome to Generic              
                       Corporation's Death Adventure!"
                   Me - "Uh, hi."
                 Lady - "Are you, in fact, alive?"
                   Me - "I guess so..."
                 Lady - "You're hired!"

   "I'm not kidding; that's the way it went.  So after a few
minutes of training, I was ready for the great responsibility
of... giving out change in the arcade!  Wow!  What a tough
job.  Sorry for being sarcastic, but it was a little too
easy, even for a lazy bum like myself.  Not that I was
complaining--not on your life.  Why knock a job where all you
do is stand around looking stupid.  Not that I was any good
at that already, mind you.  Anyway, I readily found other
things to keep me occupied... like the fifteen year old girl
in the next room.
   "Soon after that, my managers decided to put me in a game
stand.  Not any normal game of chance like the stop-and-go
wheels at the boardwalks but a sadistic game of skill that
charmed every single passerby into bothering the hell out of
me.  The game was called "Chicken Hawk."  The object was to
hit a contraption with a rubber mallet so that your rubber
chicken--modestly priced at two for a buck--would be flung
into a set of boiling pots revolving around a plastic fire.
   ""Hey, let's roast some chickens!" the abnormal brainless
customer would shout to all twenty thousand of his friends.  
If having millions of annoying people wave money in your face
wasn't enough, the game itself made chicken noises.  All day
and night long:  boock, boock, cluck, cluck, chirp.
   "Aaaa!  I was almost ready to quit when my supervisors
shoved me in a game called "Milk Can."  This time, all the
customer/sucker would have to do to win a giant stuffed
something-or-other was to toss the little ball into the big
hole of the milk can.  Actually, it was a big ball into a
little hole.  With some physical effort, one could easily put
the ball into the hole--standing right over the milk can with
the help of a very large sledgehammer.  Naturally, not many
people came to play this warped game, so, finally, I had a
chance to do what I do best... nothing!  That's what I did
for the rest of the year and a month into the next season.
   "That's when the bad news began.  Somehow, someone--who's
sanity I still question--got the idea that I should be
promoted to Games Attractions manager or runner for short.  
So they promoted me from a job where I did nothing, to a job
where I carried ten thousand dollars--all in quarters--around
the Games circle in an old World War One ammo box to all the
stupid Games employees.
   "Not that the box wasn't heavy or anything.  It only
weighed a couple of tons!  Well, it was really heavy, anyway.  
I wanted my old job back!  I liked doing nothing and getting
paid for it!  I happen to like yelling at customers and
taking stupid people's money!
   “After a while it got to be fun, I guess, but it was still
work.  Then it came to me:  The fact that I could walk around
the amusement park and flirt with all the female employees
while all the other jerks had to sit around, counting stuffed
snowmen.  Ha!  It was only a week, before I ended up sitting
in the parking lot of the local convenience store, swapping
saliva with a fellow Games employee named Mary Elgort.
   “Holy expletive deleted!  I forgot all about Mary!” Lou exclaimed.  “Geez, I was sooo stupid back then.”
   Keep reading.
   “Whatever,” Lou sighed.  
   "She was nineteen, an unnatural blonde, a high-school sophomore, and about three inches taller than my five foot five.  She also drove a Dodge Dart--a lot more on this later.  Of course she was cute; I do have my taste, ya know!
   "That was my first official kiss--not counting accidentally slipping my mother the tongue.  Only kidding.  Not about the first kiss, about French kissing my mom.”
   “Did I really think that was funny?” Lou asked himself, almost embarrassingly.
   “Anyway, that was my first kiss; I was barely eighteen.  Okay,
so I wasn't the most experienced guy in the world.  I'm a shy
little dweeb, okay?
   "Anyway, about two days later--on my day off--I ended up
in Pemberton, New Jersey--that's where she lived--riding
around in her Dart heading for who knows where.  We played
miniature golf--she kicked my butt--and by nightfall we ended
up in her bedroom, watching music videos on TV.  Actually, we
weren't watching them; it was more like background noise, if
you know what I mean, and if you don't... Wake up you
   "After a while, both of our actions were such that it
meant I was going to spend the night and have a hell of a
time spending it!  We were already slightly nude and kissing
heavily.  "What could go wrong?" I thought happily.
   "Obviously, if that was my first kiss a while back, then
that would mean that I was a virgin.  I guess that's why I
was slightly nervous when the time came for you know what...
and if you don't know this time either, just go home!  You
all know what you get when you mix nervousness and anxiety
with sex, don't ya?  Yes, a slightly limp mechanical
difficulty.  Mary had to stand by.  Annoying?  Slightly
embarrassing was more like it..."
   Lou flipped the book to the backseat and shook his head.  “Fine.  You happy now?” he asked to no one in particular.  He looked in his smudgy rear-view mirror and noticed a grey hair parked behind him, unsure of what to do.  He lowered his window and waved her on with a, “Pass, you idiot.”